Few weeks to the kick start of the All Anglophone Conference which has been discrbed by some anglophones as a window dressing for the ongoing anglophone crisis in the North West and South West Region of Cameroon, revered form Cameroon Supreme court Justice Ayah Paul has questioned the objectivity of the conference amidst massive human rights abuses.
Speaking to the organizers, Justice Ayah writes on his Facebook wall
“To recur to the prelude of yesterday to this write-up, the appellation of what Cardinal Christian Tumi and others are organising is of little consequence. To paraphrase William Shakespeare, what is in a name? The crucial issues are the conduct of the forum and the implementation of the resolutions.
Before we attempt to tackle the points, a terse summary of the journey to the present devastating hostilities may add up to the better understanding of our queries and/or apprehension. After the fatal launch of the SDF political party in Bamenda on May 26, 1990, and the ensuing government crackdown, leading to the detention and torture of prominent anglophones, including such moderate elders like Learned Justice Nyor Wakai, All Anglophones Conferences held at Buea and Bamenda and presented memoranda to Mr. President of the Republic, with a list of Anglophones’ grievances for redress. When Mr. President would not as much as vouchsafe Anglophones even a reply, Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC) was set up to pursue the issues with the government. The SCNC adopted as a motto : ‘The force of argument and not the argument of force’ – which is to say, their modus operandi was nonviolent!
Curiously, and in the like manner following the launch of SDF, Mr. President replied with gruesome crackdown. Some of the victims successfully sued the government at the African Commission of Human and People’s rights where it was held, inter alia, that Anglophones were a PEOPLE. Probably inspired by the appellation South West African People’s Organisation (SWAPO), the victims in question christened their group Southern Cameroons People’s Organisation (SCAPO), almost in rivalry to the SCNC.
While Mr. President availed himself of an international judgment relative to the Bakassi Peninsular, the very person ignored and has ignored the international judgment in favour of SCNC (SCAPO) till date. SCNC continued on the peaceful path in the search for justice. But once every year, Anglophones wanting to celebrate their independence day on October 1 were systematically brutalized, arrested, detained, torture and, at times, taken to court…Even then, they stayed steadfast in their doctrine of ‘The force of argument and not the argument of force‘.
The situation took a turning for the worse when the head of SCNC, Chief Ayamba, died. It was no longer just a matter of contending with the rivalry between SCNC and SCAPO. The SCNC itself got split into some five factions. Disillusioned with the split and intestinal fratricidal squabbles, Ayah Paul Abine declined to take the hot chair, even as a faction purported to have elected him the SCNC leader at Kumba. In the absence of clear leadership, some Anglophones in the diaspora, consciously or unconsciously, stepped in to fill the gap – after all, nature does not allow a vacuum! When, in their systematic and characteristic crackdown Mr. President’s men brutalized Anglophone lawyers and the students of the University of Buea who were peacefully demanding the preservation of some Common Law values and fair scholarship conditions, the anglophone diaspora seized the opportunity to take over the Anglophone leadership…
As it stands, Anglophones, also known today as Ambazonians, constitute two complementary groups, indispensably interdependent – the one cannot do without the other. Record would show that Ayah Paul Abine has been consistent that a third All anglophone Conference (AAC3) was a condition sin qua non for any resolution of the Anglophone Crisis which has escalated into the declared Anglophone War. It seems most likely that the crucible of a lasting solution to the present situation is when Anglophones meet and freely resolve on the way forward : on what do the majority of the Anglophone want relative to the their socio-political/cultural destiny! Anything short of such vital come-together and democratic determination of their fate would be merely a test of the grounds.
We see, for instance, that upon the announcement of the Tumi initiative, our people in the diaspora met in Washington without the home front and took resolutions, including the listing of the persons that would represent us at any possible negotiations. Months since and the impact on the ground is not felt. Similarly, AGC without the diaspora shall produce little effective results. That seems to lend support to the argument that the appropriate solution lies in the two meeting and freely charting the way forward.
Another factor we may not neglect is that we have met internally twice before with little concrete results. Much as the home front is bearing the brunt of the current ruthless brutalities of the army; and the home front is the shield against those brutalities, the outer front is on the diplomatic offensive. And several times has the government averred that funding is from them. If soi t is, the home front alone can never singlehandedly inluence the cessation of hostilities and any eventual negotiations.
How then can one appreciate the Tumi initiative? The African proverb is that you don’t stop the lullaby as long as the child cries on. In other words, we cannot stand idly by ‘while the souls of men are dying’.Yet should we not lose sight of antecedents, and the fact that Mr. President has treated with contempt all appeals for a peaceful resolution. Can it be conjectured that, with the wanton destruction of over 500 human lives, and the continuous losses on both sides, Mr. President may now capitalize on an internal face-saving endeavour to turn more to reason than to sentiments? Were that even to be the case, associating the diaspora would be of vital necessity. They have played no negligible role in bringing about any such turnabout; and their place at the final entente is, of necessity, indispensable.
All this brings us to the one all-important conclusion that the better approach would have been to prevail on Mr. President to take the necessary measures to guarantee the participation of Anglophones in the diaspora without incurring any official adverse reaction. And preceding the conference with the release of those in prison and detention would have been absolutely conducive to healthy discussions with fraternal disposition. Without attempting to wonder, without offending against decorum, whether the outcome of the upcoming Tumi initiative may not find comfort in the waste basket like previous initiatives, we still propose to try and see.
But in the meantime, we are losing men/women/children and property daily. In whose interest is it to beat about the bush instead of hitting the nail directly on the head? If I had the answer, would I still put the question to you, brethren?
YOU SEE AND KNOW EVERYTHING!” Ayah Concluded